In group constellation workshops, the intake interview is a short one. It homes in quickly on the problem, guesses at ancestral blocks, and moves directly into setting up representatives. It’s in the nature of a workshop that it has to be this way. Four to six constellations happen in a day.
But what happens in one-on-one constellations? Or rather, what should or could happen in private versions?
Do We Just Copy the Workshop Approach?
Many facilitators I know do something similar. The constellation, whether remote or in person, happens in one sitting. Some exploration of the issue and creation of a shared set-up of representatives is followed by the client and constellator both “feeling into” being parts of the family system.
A dynamic is observed, and a resolution is achieved, more or less—and the interaction is over. It is, in many many cases, an isolated, one-time event.
Early on, I stopped doing and teaching private constellations this way. Too many things, starting with sufficient rapport with the client, and moving on all the way to subsequent follow-up—were left out in this approach.
So an initial private constellation with me, whether remote or in person, evolved quickly into three sessions. Here’s what happens in them.
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Why Have a Separate Intake Interview?
Goodness, let me count the reasons.
Spending a full hour with you as a new client a few days before the constellation itself allows us to "tune in" to one another. That’s important. The in-between time, after the intake but before the next constellation session, then allows us to assimilate and reflect on our interaction.
Typically, ancestral patterns, additional questions, further information, and even relevant dreams emerge. All of these ensure that the constellation that actually happens is maximally on target.
Questions and a Genogram
But beyond that, that initial hour allows me time to ask detailed questions about
In the course of this, I sketch a genogram with notations about important family events and relationships. This genogram serves many functions.
A Two-Hour Constellation Session
We meet then, 2 to 10 days later, for the actual constellation. In person, there’s one shared set-up. Remotely, you create one on your end and I copy the arrangement on mine. Using ordinary household objects turns out to be richly symbolic and helps the dynamic reveal itself.
I take pictures of the constellation (you can too). Annotated afterwards, these create a record of what emerged and what the resolution was. Again, this allows me to reconstruct the process months or years later.
My experience is, this two session approach gets much more to the heart of things. But wait, there’s more.
The All Important Follow-up
Some of my constellations really do solve the problem—almost miraculously. But others, where there is deeper trauma, or mixes of personal and inherited ancestral trauma, can bring up strong feelings that may need my support. So, sometimes very quickly (if there’s a disturbance), and other times 2 to 4 weeks later--we meet again for 30 minutes or so to see how the work landed.
This allows us to evaluate what happened, give you the care you may need, and plan further moves as necessary. Sometimes, for instance, the anchor of some ancestral trauma is genuinely cut free, but there’s a kind of learned helplessness. The boat can move now, but the crew, so to speak, has given up trying to run the engine. At this point, 350 hours of training as a coach may come into play.
For me professionally, however, follow-up has been the feedback I need to improve my facilitating skills. There’s no substitute for learning what works and what doesn’t.
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